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Entertainment and Sports Law

Players On the Move

A look at moves among attorneys, law firms, companies and other players in entertainment law.


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IHeartMedia has hired Amazon attorney Jon Kurland to serve as executive vice-president of business affairs and chief entertainment counsel. Kurland brings more than a decade of legal and entertainment industry experience to his new role. At Amazon, he served as senior corporate counsel in the Global Media & Entertainment division, where he focused on podcasting, music licensing, original content and technology transactions for Amazon’s Audible. In his new role, Kurland will lead iHeartMedia’s business affairs team and focus on deals and relationships in such fields as music, podcasting and entertainment. San Antonio-based iHeartMedia is the nation’s largest owner of radio stations, with more than 860 stations in 160 markets. It employs more than 9,500 people and has annual revenue of $3.6 billion. Kurland will be based in New York City and will report to Jordan Fasbender, the company’s general counsel. Before joining Amazon in 2017, Kurland was in private practice at entertainment firms Sloss Eckhouse and Carroll Guido & Groffman, where his client roster included Dave Matthews, Pearl Jam, Tiesto, Nick Jonas and Demi Lovato, as well as the filmmakers Justin Lin and Richard Linklater. Amid sweeping changes roiling college sports, the Atlantic Coast Conference has hired its first general counsel, Pearlynn Houck, a partner at the regional law firm Robinson Bradshaw. Previously, the conference worked closely with outside counsel Jon Barrett, who was a partner at Chicago-based Mayer Brown and led the firm’s Charlotte, NC, office until his retirement last year. The ACC has 15 schools, including Duke and Notre Dame. The conference is based in Greensboro, NC, but relocating to Charlotte in August. ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips said in a statement: “As we continue to navigate the future of college athletics and the many opportunities and challenges ahead, this is the right time to hire a full-time executive staff member to provide comprehensive oversight of legal affairs and risk management for the conference.” During her 17-year career at Robinson Bradshaw, Houck served as outside counsel to the Southeastern Conference, representing it in antitrust lawsuits and advising on name, image and likeness compliance. Houck was based in the Charlotte, NC, office of Robinson Bradshaw.  The Walt Disney Co. laid off one of its top attorneys, Chief Compliance Officer Alicia Schwarz, who’d been one of three Black senior executives at the Burbank, California based entertainment giant. Deadline and The Wall Street Journal reported that Disney cut Schwarz, a nine-year employee of the company, in its first round of layoffs that when complete will eliminate 7,000 jobs, which represents 3% of its 220,000-person global workforce. Schwartz joined Disney in 2014 as principal counsel. She became assistant general counsel in 2018, deputy chief compliance counsel in 2020 and compliance chief in 2021. She is one of 19 senior executives featured on the company’s website. Before working at Disney, Schwarz was with law firm Hughes Hubbard & Reed, where she specialized in corporate compliance, anti-corruption, internal investigations and international trade. She also worked at Preston Gates and Ellis (now K&L Gates) and the U.S. Department of Commerce. Schwartz and Disney’s media-relations team did not respond to requests for comment from Entertainment Law & Finance affiliate Deadline said Schwarz’s duties, which included overseeing business conduct and managing regulatory compliance with anti-corruption and trade laws, will be taken up by general counsel Horacio Gutierrez, who joined Disney in February 2022. Disney CEO Bob Iger had announced the planned reductions in February, saying the company aimed to achieve $5.5 billion in cost savings. Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith has welcomed partner Jason Berger to its Philadelphia office as a member of the firm’s national entertainment, media and sports practice. Berger works with artists, individuals and companies to protect their legal interests and help them achieve long-term success. He has experience preparing and negotiating agreements in the music, television, film, digital media, technology, art and fashion industries. His client base includes songwriters, producers, bands, independent record labels, digital distribution companies, content creation and management companies, music publishing companies, apparel companies, management companies, executives, influencers, actors and models, as well as multimedia fashion and lifestyle companies. He is a member and active participant in The Recording Academy’s Philadelphia Chapter, where he previously served on the board of governors and co-chaired the chapter’s advocacy committee. Beth B. Moore joins the Atlanta office of Arnall Golden Gregory as of counsel in the firm’s corporate practice, and entertainment and sports industry team. Moore represents clients across the entertainment industry, with a specific focus on film and television, in all aspects of business formation and partnership agreements, as well as due diligence and contract negotiations. She also served as the Georgia House of Representatives’ District 95 member from 2019-22.

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